Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Texas Discovery Loop

Texas Discovery Loop map

Texas Discovery Loop mapThe Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardenOld Fish Hatchey Nature Area/White Rock Lake ParkLeonhardt Lagoon/Dallas Museum of Natural HistoryTexas Discovery GardensCedar Ridge PreserveCedar Hill State ParkAudubon Center at Dogwood Canyon/Cedar Mountain PreserveRogers Wildlife Rehabilitation CenterDallas ISD Environmental Learning Center

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More information:

  • Dallas CVB
    800-232-5527, www.dallascvb.com
  • Duncanville COC
    972-780-4990, www.duncanvillechamber.org

085.gif PPW-W 085 The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From I 30 East in Dallas, take the Barry/ East Grand Exit. Stay straight on the service road crossing Barry and turn left on East Grand Ave./ Hwy 78. Stay on East Grand Ave. for approximately 3.0 miles as it becomes Garland Road. The Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden is on the left.

The gardens offer a great opportunity to learn about native Texas plants and associated wildlife. Look for birds such as Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, and Common Nighthawk. White Rock Lake, located nearby, provides an opportunity to see a variety of ducks, egrets and herons.

Native Texas trees at the Arboretum include Texas madrone, rough-leaf dogwood, Texas ash, cherry laurel, escarpment live oak, and Texas mountain laurel. Visitors can enjoy a variety of flowering and fragrant plants such as azaleas, paperwhite narcissus, English daisy, verbena, Japanese katsura, Mexican heather and many more.

The Arboretum and gardens have five major water features, including ponds and waterfalls which attract birds and insects. Visit this site to learn more about gardening with native plants to attract a diversity of wildlife.

Phone: 214-515-6500, www.dallasarboretum.org

086.gif PPW-W 086 Old Fish Hatchery Nature Area / White Rock Lake Park

Site open for day use only.

Old Fish Hatchery at White Rock Lake: From I 30 East in Dallas, take Exit 48A (Barry/ East Grand Ave.). Stay straight on the road crossing Barry and turn left on East Grand Ave. (Hwy 78). Turn left (northeast) on Hwy 78/ E. Grand Ave. and follow it 1.8 miles to the intersection of East Grand Avenue and Gaston Avenue. Note: at this point East Grand Avenue becomes Garland Road (State Highway 78). Continue northeast on Garland Road to its intersection with Winsted Drive (there is a stoplight here). Turn left (northwest) onto Winsted Drive and go 0.2 miles to the unpaved parking lot on the right (north) side of the road. Park here. The White Rock Lake spillway will be immediately to the east/northeast and the Old Fish Hatchery will be immediately to the north. The White Rock Lake spillway and dam can be accessed via a pedestrian bridge at the end of the parking lot. The Old Fish Hatchery Nature Area can be accessed via a signed and gated entrance located 0.1 miles northwest along the White Rock Lake hike-and- bike trail.

White Rock Lake: From I 30 East in Dallas, take Exit 48A (Barry/ East Grand Ave.). Stay straight on the service road crossing Barry and turn left on East Grand Ave. (Hwy 78). Turn left (northeast) on Hwy 78/ E. Grand Ave. and follow it 4.2 miles. Turn left (north-west) on Loop 12/ N. Buckner Blvd. The lake can be accessed from several places along Buckner Blvd., including Lake Highlands Drive and Mockingbird Road. Use Lawther Road (East and West) to travel around the lake.

The Old Fish Hatchery Nature Area is a 50-acre corner of White Rock Lake Park. A canopy of oak, elm, cottonwood and pecan trees provides habitat for warblers, titmice, chickadees, vireos, wrens, woodpeckers, and sparrows. Habitat consists of moist woodland with low-lying areas and ponds, a small prairie remnant, a beaver pond and the remains of hatchery ponds. Understory vegetation consisting of greenbriar, American beautyberry, eastern redbud, and red mulberry provide wildlife cover. Year-round resident birds include Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls, Belted Kingfishers, Wood Ducks, Warbling Vireos, Eastern Phoebes, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons. The site also supports a naturalized colony of introduced Monk Parakeets. Beaver, Gray Fox, Bobcat, and Coyote have also been observed here.

The trails of White Rock Lake Park are well maintained and offer benches to rest along the way. This area offers refuge for a variety of wildlife in an area where habitat has been lost due to development. Remember to bring binoculars, field guides, and during the warmer months, mosquito repellant.

Phone: 214-670-8281.

087.gif PPW-W 087 Leonhardt Lagoon / Dallas Museum of Natural History

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From I 30 heading east in Dallas, take Exit 47A (2nd Avenue/ Fair Park). Bear right as you exit and continue to Grand Avenue. Turn left on Grand Avenue to enter the park. Turn right just inside the gate and park. The DMNH is directly across the street from the parking lot. The Lagoon is on the other side of the Museum.

Fascinating sculptures on both ends of the Lagoon draw visitors out to the pond for a closer look. The sculptures, which represent duck potato, Sagittaria playtphylla and Hugenot fern, Pteris multifida, serve as a sunning pads for Red-eared Sliders and other turtles. In addition, the sweeping curves of their stems and leaves also create walkways and bridges that allow the visitor to enter the pond environment. Visitors can sit and enjoy the antics of Western Kingbirds as they dive and hover over the pond picking insects off the lily pads. Barn Swallows can also be seen swooping around the pond, while the occasional Green Heron or Common Egret stalks its prey along the shore.

Large trees growing at the edge of the pond include bald cypress, sycamore, eastern redcedar, mesquite, sweetgum, live oak, red oak, cottonwood and pecan. Wetland plants such as duck potato (arrowhead), pickerel weed, cattails, horsetail (scouring rush), fragrant water lily, and yellow cow-lily decorate the pond. The lagoon attracts an amazing diversity of birds. Nesting species have included Least Bittern, Wood Duck, Mallard, Killdeer, Common Nighthawk, Red-winged Blackbird, American Kestrel, Chimney Swift, Downy Woodpecker and Western Kingbird. Other species that frequent the pond include Eastern Phoebe, Common Yellowthroat, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Cooper’s Hawk, Double-crested Cormorant, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch, American Coot, Yellow Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler.

The pond is also home to an assortment of native fish, including largemouth bass, Guadalupe bass, bluegill, catfish and gar. Softshell, snapping, musk and mud turtles can be seen sunning or slipping into the water, while dragonflies and damselflies patrol the shores, hunting their next meal.

The Dallas Museum of Natural History, located at the west end of the Lagoon, documents the natural history of Texas through fifty dioramas of Texas wildlife, as well as Texas dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. With a wonderful collection of permanent and traveling exhibits, the Dallas Museum of Natural History is sure to please both the casual visitor and the serious student of nature.

Phone: DMNH 214-421-3466, www.dallasdino.org

088.gif PPW-W 088 Texas Discovery Gardens

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

From I 30 East in Dallas, take Exit 47A (2nd Avenue/ Fair Park), curve to the right and turn left on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (the second light). Enter the gates to Fair Park and park in the lot on your right.

The native plants and organic gardening methods at Texas Discovery Gardens provide an urban oasis for wildlife. The first certified organic public garden in the state, Texas Discovery Gardens provides an opportunity to see a wide variety of butterflies, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Birds such as Cedar Waxwings, Downy Woodpeckers, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, House Wrens, Western and Eastern Kingbirds, American Goldfinches, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds frequent the gardens.

Butterflies often seen in the gardens include Pipevine, Giant, Eastern Tiger, and Black swallowtails, Checkered Whites, Dainty and Cloudless Sulphurs, Great Purple and Banded hairstreaks, Eastern Tailed-Blues, American Snouts, Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs, Queens, Pearl Crescents, Mourning Cloaks, Red Admirals, Hackberry Emperors, Long-tailed Skippers, Horace’s Duskywing, Fiery Skippers, and Ocola Skipper. Other insects frequently seen include various dragonflies, damselflies, carpenter bees and ladybugs. The pond near the center of the gardens provides a home for several species of frogs and turtles.

Plants featured in the gardens include hundreds of native species from the collection of Texas A&M researcher, Benny J. Simpson, as well as a collection of adapted roses, conifers and ornamental grasses. The native species include Texas sage, prairie rose, black dalea, Texas persimmon, Hercules’ club, agarito, Wright acacia, Mexican blue oak, Lantry red oak, evergreen sumac, four wing saltbush and Texas bouchea.

Phone: 214-428-7476, www.texasdiscoverygardens.org

089.gif PPW-W 089 Cedar Ridge Preserve

Site open for day use only.

From I 20 in southwest Dallas take Exit 458 for Mountain Creek Parkway. Turn left (south) onto Mountain Creek Parkway and follow it 2.5 miles to Cedar Ridge Preserve.

A visitor to this 633-acre nature preserve is first drawn to the garden near the entrance where butterflies float among the flowers. Make a quick stop at the visitor’s center for a trail guide and then head to the trails. Ten miles of trails through open oak woodlands offer beautiful views of streams, ponds and the geology of the escarpment. Look for fossils in the rock formations. Wildflowers add color to the forest greenery. The very rare dog-tooth violet blooms on the stream banks for a few weeks in March.

Future plans for this preserve include habitat restoration for Black-capped Vireos. Look for White-eyed Vireos, Carolina Chickadees, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Western Kingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Listen for the characteristic calls of Downy, Ladder-backed, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Phone: 972-293-5150, www.audubondallas.org

090.gif PPW-W 090 Cedar Hill State Park

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

From I 20 West in Dallas, take Exit 457 (FM 1382/ Grand Prairie/ Cedar Hill). Turn left (south) on FM 1382/ S. Belt Line Rd. and follow it south 3.8 miles to Cedar Hill State Park located at 1570 West FM 1382.

This unique 1,800-acre state park is located where two climax ecosystems converge. The tallgrass prairie and its rolling black clay soil meet the rugged limestone escarpment. Small remnants of tallgrasss prairie are dominated by Indiangrass, little bluestem, big bluestem, sideoats grama, switchgrass, and other native grasses and flowering plants. Other habitats include upland forests with cedar elm, honey locust, mesquite, and juniper trees. In the scenic, wooded hills, common animals include Bobcat, Coyote, Gray Fox, Squirrel, Armadillo, and Raccoon.

Joe Pool Lake is a beautiful reservoir with wetland edges where visitors can stop to see Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants, Green-backed Herons, American Wigeons, Ruddy Ducks, Solitary Sandpipers, Wilson’s Phalaropes and Greater Yellowlegs in the springtime. During the fall and winter, look for Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed gulls, Least Sandpipers, Belted Kingfishers, Forster’s Terns and Canada Geese.

The trails in the park offer secluded locations for wildlife viewing and enjoyment. The DORBA Trail leads visitors through a native tallgrass prairie where Dickcissels, Northern Bob-whites, Indigo and Painted Buntings, Field Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks are common. Savannah, Song, and Lincoln’s Sparrows and Lapland Longspurs are often seen during winter.

A hike along the Talala Trail provides good birding opportunities as it winds through open oak woodlands. During spring and summer look for White-eyed Vireos, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Carolina Chickadees, Summer Tanagers, Carolina Wrens, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Eastern Bluebirds, Swainson’s Thrushes, Tufted Titmice, Black-throated Green Warblers and Loggerhead Shrikes. Fall and winter species include Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Eastern Wood-Pewees and Orange-crowned Warblers.

Phone: 972-291-3900, Cedar Hill SP

091.gif PPW-W 091 Audubon Center at Dogwood Canyon / Cedar Mountain Preserve

Site open for day use only.

From I 20 West in Dallas, take Exit 457 (FM 1382/ Grand Prairie/ Cedar Hill). Turn left (south) onto FM 1382/ S. Belt Line Rd. and follow it south approximately 5.2 miles. Dogwood Canyon is located on FM 1382 between I 20 and SH 67, about 0.5 miles southeast of the entrance to Cedar Hill State Park.

This site is under development as a major education facility operated by the Audubon Society and partners. Once completed, the trails and other educational programming that will be available at the center and preserve provides an excellent opportunity to learn about Texas birds. Permanent residents of the escarpment and adjacent grasslands include Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Carolina and Bewick’s Wrens, Red-bellied, Down and an occasional Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Familiar summer residents include Chuck-wills Widows, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, painted and Indigo buntings, White-eyed and Red-eyed vireos, Summer Tanagers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Regular winter residents include Hermit Thrushes, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Brown Creepers, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned warblers, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets. Once the Audubon and its partners have acquired the remaining parcels of land for the Audubon Center at Dogwood Canyon, visitors may be able to catch a glimpse of the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Phone: 972-293-5150; 972-291-5130, www.audubondallas.org

092.gif PPW-W 092 Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Site open for day use only.

From Dallas, go south on I 45 and take Exit 274 (Dowdy Ferry Rd./ Hutchins). Turn left at the first stop sign; left at the second stop sign and then from the northbound access road of I 45, turn right on Cleveland Road. (Cleveland is just north of Dowdy Ferry on the east side of the highway). Follow Cleveland Road approximately 1.0 mile to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, on the left, adjacent to the Trinity Waste Services facility.

Built on a former landfill site, this avian rehabilitation center and USDA-licensed farm animal sanctuary offers close-up views of non-releasable wild birds as well as wildlife viewing in a natural setting. The wetlands, especially the pond and marsh system on the Trinity River, provide habitat for wintering waterfowl and year-round resident birds. Unusual species observed on the property include native Wood Storks, Scarlet Ibis, and Bald Eagles. Other commonly observed birds on the property include Great Blue, Green, and Little Blue Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, and Canada Geese. Also watch for Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Belted Kingfishers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, kingbirds, swallows, vultures, roadrunners, Wood Ducks, Inca and White-winged doves, Blue Jays, Cuckoos and gulls.

A walk along the Wetland Trail or the Woodland Nature Trail may reveal a glimpse of a Coyote, Cottontail Rabbit, Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Fox, or Bobcat. The site also has a small butterfly garden where visitors can see Giant Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, and fritillaries. A spectacular array of 300 bluebird nesting boxes throughout the property provide for bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and wrens. Popular among birding groups and school groups, Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center offers easily accessible opportunities to view wildlife.

Phone: 972-225-4000, www.rogerswildlife.org

093.gif PPW-W 093 Dallas Independent School District Environmental Learning Center

Site open for day use only.

From I 20 East in Dallas, exit US 175 and travel east on US 175 to Seagoville. Take the E. Malloy Bridge Rd. Exit and turn right (south). Go to Watson Rd. and turn right. Note: Watson Rd. becomes Fran Street, which becomes Armstrong Rd. as the roads curves to the left. Follow Armstrong Rd. to its deadend at Bowers Rd. Turn right at Bowers Rd. and follow it (there is a sharp curve to the left) approximately 0.7 miles to the Environmental Learning Center on the right; the DISD Post Oak Preserve is on the left.

This preserve, along with the education center, is an excellent place to see and learn about Texas wildlife. It is an exceptional site for families with children, particularly elementary age children.

The Post Oak Preserve is a 334-acre property above the Trinity River floodplain. Habitats include upland forest and meadows, bottomland hardwood forest, thickets, streams and lakes. Little bluestem and post oak dominate the uplands. Look for Giant and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Painted Lady butterflies in the open meadows.

As you walk the trail to the creek, notice that the understory gets thicker, the air gets cooler and damper and a variety of mushrooms appear. Look for resident woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Chimney Swifts, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Great-crested Flycatchers, Brown Thrashers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Dickcissels, Summer Tanagers, American Goldfinches, and Rufous-sided Towhees.

Watch for amphibians such as Eastern Tiger Salamanders, Gulf Coast Toads, Green Tree Frogs, Strecker’s Chorus Frogs, Southern Leopard Frogs and Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toads. Reptiles include the Common Snapping Turtle, Ornate Box Turtle, Texas Spiny Lizard, Five-lined Skink, Western Ribbon Snake, Eastern Hognose Snake, and Southern Copperhead.

Possibly the best aspect of this urban preserve is that a visitor can sit at the edge of the lake and feel miles away from the city.

Phone: 972-749-6900, www.dallasisd.org/inside_disd/depts/eec/eec.html


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